Dai Henwood trying to be Elton John.

Dancing with the Stars, week seven: Unbroken wings

They’re not tiny dancers, they’re Elton John sized! Thank the lord! Sam Brooks power-ranks week seven of Dancing with the Stars.

I could have lived my whole life without seeing Dai Henwood play at being Elton John! But here we are in May 2019, readers. The world burns and drowns around us.

Sincere question: Do television shows have to declare sponsored content? Because what do you know it, Rocketman happens to come out this Thursday in New Zealand! And lo and behold, all the songs this week are from ‘the original Rocketman soundtrack’. Which is a weird way to say that all the songs that are being danced to are from Elton John.

Thankfully for me, and you, dear readers, this gives me something to talk about beyond the dances. Because damn, there’s not a lot to talk about when we’re at the ‘everyone is actually good’ part of the competition. So I’ll be talking about Rocketman a bit, a film I actually liked quite a bit!

Anyway, here’s the dances:

ELIMINATED: K’Lee (and Scott Cole) – Jive

The dance: This was silly, fun, and good! I have nothing mean to say about this. I looked forward to seeing K’Lee dance every week, because I she’s relatable as hell. Dancing is hard, and it’s hard to learn a complicated dance in a week. She did it, she didn’t make it look easy, but she did a great job of it.

Farewell, K’Lee. It is a state crime that we did not get to see you dance to 1+1+1.

The movie: ‘Crocodile Rock’ plays during one of the age transitions, if my memory serves! One of the best things about Rocketman is that it isn’t a straight-up biopic, it’s pretty much a musical! Which is great. The last thing anybody wants from an Elton John film is for it to be all serious business, and even though John has had a rough life (albeit with many, many millions to cushion it), the musical numbers get us inside his head in a flashy, fantastical way. Songs! In a film about a musician! What a concept.

Judge’s score: 22.

6. Nadia Lim (and Aaron Gilmore) – Quickstep

The dance: This was her best one yet! There’s always a bit of awkwardness – maybe she’s just a slightly awkward – but she’s come so far since her first week, and she’s helped here by a great song! I don’t think she’s going to win, but if there’s a not-so-strong dancer who goes far because of goodwill, then you can do a whole lot worse than this.

The movie: ‘I’m Still Standing’ is very good! And, wisely, it comes at a pivotal, spoiler-y, point in the movie. And can I say that Taron Edgerton is seriously amazing in Rocketman! There’s a total unguardedness to his version of Elton John that is super appealing, and he manages to play the mask of Elton John and the humanity of Elton John in a way that doesn’t feel stunty or like mimicry.

Judge’s score: 24.

5.Manu Vatuvei (and Loryn Reynolds) – Foxtrot

The dance: There was lots of lifting in this one! It was pretty and pink, and Manu seemed super emotional about it. None of his vaunted, much-loved laugh here. I… wasn’t as into it as the judges were, but that might just be because that shade of pink gives me hives that usually only happen during the change in season.

The movie: ‘Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me’ plays in the moment where Elton walks out of his concert and checks straight into rehab, which I assume happened in real life! Sometimes the film goes a little bit literal with what songs line up with what parts of Elton John’s life (thank god there’s no ‘Candle in the Wind’ moment) but for the most part it’s fairly impressionistic, and it can be quite a surprise what songs end up where!

Judge’s score: 27.

4. Glen Osborne (and Vanessa Cole) – Jive

The dance: Good! Maybe a bit simple, with a lot of opportunities to drop the amazing Vanessa on the floor. I feel like Glen has a bit of harder time with these more lively dances than he does with the stately ones – there’s nowhere for him to anchor himself, and it feels like while he’s okay being goofy and dorky in the packages, that doesn’t translate. Still, good!

The movie: Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting is when Rocketman really kicks into gear – the choreography is full West Side Story realness, and it’s the first time that the movie really delivers the exhilaration that it must’ve been to be around Elton John when he was just beginning. It’s also the first time the film, stylistically, makes itself stand out from other musical biopics. This one is going to be fun.

Judge’s score: 25.

3. William Wairua (and Amelia McGregor) – Samba

The dance: I hate piano mime! I hate it so much! There’s a clip online where Delta Goodrem, a moderately talented piano player, has to do a run during the bridge of ‘Wings’ and she clearly just bashes notes on the piano that don’t correspond to the actual notes and it made me so mad I’m writing about it five years later!!!

Anyway, this was good! I think this pairing has found the right groove and outlet for William’s boundless charisma and clear talent as a dancer – this shows him off, with an apparently difficult dance (slow samba is hard!) and it works better than anything else I’ve seen from him this season.

The movie: I don’t remember when they sing ‘Benny & The Jets’ in the movie! I’m sure they sing it somewhere because they wouldn’t be dancing to it tonight otherwise. Oh, the joys of unhashtagged sponsored content.

Judge’s score: 24.

2. Clinton Randell (and Brittany Coleman) – Contemporary

The dance: Look, I have to say that I have no love for ‘contemporary dance’. In a former life, I went to a film school that sat adjacent to the dance school, and I saw more contemporary dance than I care to. But this was pretty! There was an earnest teenage energy to it that I was into, but the judges were clearly looking for more expression and emotion. Look at Randell’s face, though! Don’t you just want to see him roll around the stage and lift ladies up effortlessly? I know I do, but that’s why I write about the show and don’t judge it.

The movie: ‘Tiny Dancer’ plays after amoment where Elton John’s straight best friend Bernie (played delicately by Jamie Bell in Rocketman) goes off with a girl he met, and Elton John pretends not to be hurt and possessive about it! Wow! I’ve never felt that before! There’s a contemporary dance-y moment after it, which maybe inspired the dance in this? Who can say.

Judge’s score: 25.

1. Laura Daniel (and Shae Mountain) – Foxtrot

The dance: Great! It’s very hard to be funny about someone who is getting high scores and deserves to be getting the high scores. There’s a fairly long direct to camera bit that doesn’t quite work for me, but hey! Laura got the first ten of the season! Go her, I still know nothing about dance.

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It is absolutely ridiculous that she wound up in the bottom two despite being at the top of the leaderboard! C’mon, voters. Vote better!

The song: In the movie, Elton sings ‘Your Song’ to his straight best friend Bernie TaupinIt’s a nice twist on a song that I find to be a little bit trite, simply because it is overplayed by very boring people. This can be said for a lot of John’s material – he’s a genuinely great artist making genuinely cool, exciting music that is played to death by a lot of boring people.

Judge’s score: 28.

 


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